Ventnor police officer bitten by K-9

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NORTHFIELD – Ventnor Police Officer Jamie Pirchio, the only K-9 handler on the city squad, was taken to Shore Medical Center Sunday, July 27 after being bitten by her K-9 partner, Nico, Sunday morning.

According to Ventnor Police Chief Michael Miller, Pirchio had to undergo surgery on her hand and was scheduled to be released sometime later Monday, July 28.

The incident occurred Sunday morning at Pirchio’s Northfield residence. Neighbors said the officer was outside working with the dog when something happened and they heard her call out. They ran to her home and found she had been bitten on the hand and suffered a bruise on her leg as well.

Miller said the department would conduct an investigation to determine what happened.

 “It is not out of the ordinary for a K-9 handler to get an occasional bite. Something like this likely happens 10 to 15 times regionally each year,” he said. “Officers working with their dogs will often motivate them with toys, and they can be quite protective of those toys.”

He said Pirchio had the dog very quickly in her command and that at no time was Nico a threat to anyone.

Pirchio is Ventnor’s first K-9 officer since the 1980s. She and Nico completed their required training together at the Atlantic County Police Academy at the end of May, but Pirchio was injured near the end of the course and had not yet returned to active duty.

“K-9 officers are a great asset to law enforcement, especially on patrol, and they are invaluable in narcotics detection,” the chief said.

Nico, a 2-year-old German shepherd, is cross-trained for search and rescue and narcotics detection, according to Miller.

The Ventnor Police Department acquired the funding to purchase Nico and send Pirchio and the dog to the police academy using asset forfeiture funds.

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